Star Trek: The Next Generation or TNG is an American sci-fi series created by Gene Roddenberry, and a continuation of the Star Trek franchise which started with Star Trek: The Original Series (which aired on NBC from September 8th 1966 to June 3rd 1969). TNG originally aired from September 28th 1987 to May 23rd 1994 and has seven seasons, and 178 episodes. It features an ensemble cast which includes Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker, Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data, Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf, LeVar Burton as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, Marina Sirtis as counselor Deanna Troi and Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher.
1. Measure of a Man
Is a strong episode for both Picard and Data, it has the characters debating whether Data counts as a sentient being, and it cuts straight to the heart of the issue of artificial intelligence and really resonates strongly with the viewer because the person we’ve spent the past two seasons getting to know is treated like an object and it doesn’t sit well.
It took six seasons but we got this fantastic episode that not only has John de Lancie as the irrepressible Q but also gets to the root of what makes Picard who he is, we even get to see the classic Starfleet uniforms as well.
Every series of Star Trek needs to have a nod to TOS and this is one of my favourites, it has James Doohan as Montgomery Scott aka Scotty who rigged up a fancy tech solution…just like the good ol’ days to keep himself and another person alive until they could be rescued. However he finds that things have changed too much In the approximately 75 years and he is struggling to find a place for himself.
4. Frame of Mind
Was such a good episode, it was all twists and turns and it really gave Jonathan Frakes a chance to shine as an actor, showing the extremes he is capable of as well and providing an interesting and unique story that resolves itself well and didn’t feel like filler.
Is a strong developmental episode for Data, he meets his ‘father’ Noonien Soong, and encounters his ‘brother’ Lore again. He comes close to getting an emotion chip which would have given him a shortcut to becoming a real human. It’s such a powerful episode, particularly with the secondary plot with the two alien brothers to add a counterpoint.
Is another episode that focuses on everyone’s favourite android, he gets to meet a facsimile of his ‘mother’ and learns more about his father and his youth, and it’s really touching, data reflects on his own attempts at fatherhood and we really see him come close to his overall goal in this episode, or he at least gets some context to his journey.
I love Worf but other than as a way to show off the Klingons in general he doesn’t have a great deal of development (he gets far more growth in DS9) but in this episode we see his pride and honour conflict with the human moral core of the show as he wishes to self terminate because he is left crippled. It’s a powerful emotional episode, that really gives Worf some well deserved focus.
8. Deja Q
Is a Q episode, once every season or so since his introduction in the first episode he pops up to bug Picard and entertain himself, he even managed to appear in DS9 and Voyager a couple of times but this is by far my favourite Q episode because it humanizes him, give him a chance to grow even for a moment beyond his larger than life persona and then of course all things return to the status quo.
I love intrigue and Clues has it in buckets, it has the crew unraveling a mystery and discovering what exactly Data is lying about and why? It’s a fun little middle of the season episode that doesn’t fail to disappoint.
10. Elementary, Dear Data
I struggled between this one or ‘Ship in a Bottle’ for entry on this list, both deal with the sentient Moriarty hologram but in the end the episode where the character was first introduced and Data and Geordi play Holmes and Watson respectively was in my eyes superior.
Honourable mentions go to The Lower Decks, The Inner Light, Skin of Evil, The Offspring and Sarek which I also really enjoyed but didn’t quite make the top 10 list.
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